Borough President Melinda Katz and council members Julissa Ferreras and Jimmy Van Bramer each allocated funding that will be used for the installation of countdown clocks at busy Queens bus stops.
Ferreras and Van Bramer each allocated $229,000 and $100,000, respectively, while Katz set aside $200,000 for the clocks in next year's budget.
Countdown clocks, which alert public transportation users when a bus is expected to arrive through real-time GPS information, cost about $20,000 each.
The Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization that advocates mass transit, first lobbied for funds for the clocks in 2014, which led to the later installation of the timers in Staten Island and lower Manhattan.
Executive Drirector John Raskin said that it feels like bus service has not changed very much in the past 50 years, but with new technology there is a sense of progress.
“This is an example of the small improvements that make life more tolerable for bus riders,” he said. “We appreciate the City Council members and the communities that have prioritized the needs of bus riders and allocated more than $1 million to expand this popular program.” Raskin said.
Corona resident Samuel Santaella said that after an experience that left he and his sister waiting in the cold for a bus for 40 minutes, the countdown clocks are a welcomed improvement.
“If I'd known how far away the bus was, I could've walked to the train or waited inside a store instead of being stranded,” he said.
Van Bramer called the funding a major victory for public transportation users.
“These clocks will let bus riders know when a bus is running behind and when it is on time,” he said. “The information empowers the riders and helps them make a decision as to which form of transit to take.”
Katz will consult with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to determine which stops will get the clocks. Areas such as user dependency and proximity to other public transportation, as well as important facilities such as schools and hospitals, will be used to make the final decision.
By 2017, ten countdown clocks are expected to be installed and activated.
“Our borough’s growth and mobility depends on reliable mass transit,” said Katz. “Countdown clocks eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the unknown, a feeling familiar to every traveler.”